Rejoicing in Terrible Signs

Pentecost 26 Tuesday
Luke 21:27-28
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the cloud with great power and glory. Yet when these things begin to take place, look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.”
Christ says emphatically: “They will see the Son of Man coming”…͟which is saying more than simply stating: “Then the Son of Man will come.” He thereby wishes to indicate that this coming will take place in a visible way, since the first coming took place in such a hidden way that it first had to be proclaimed to the shepherds by the angels from heaven. Yet his last coming is not proclaim ed by anyone but will be seen by all creatures at all places. And just as the first coming took place in contempt and lowliness, so this one will be held in great glory, as is written in Revelation 1:7: “And every eye will see him.” In Matthew 24:31 he adds: “And he will send his angels with loud trumpets, and they will gather his elect from the four corners, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is the day about which St. Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 4:5: “The Lord will bring to light everything hidden in darkness and reveal the counsel of the hearts.” Then all things in all people will be revealed and the all generations of the earth will cry. He chiefly describes this last coming in the prophet Zephaniah, chapter 1:14-16: “When word of the day of the Lord will come, the strong ones will cry bitterly. For this day is a day of wrath, a day of sadness and fear; a day of tempest and storm, a day of darkness and gloom; a day of clouds and fog, a day of trombones and trumpets.” Note how the prophets describes the day of the Lord. What does he want to tell us here? Friend, who may look forward to such furious coming? Who may comprehend and understand it? But this is said to those who are Christians who are harassed in this life by much adversity and who only desire to be redeemed from sin and all evil. Accordingly, we pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come; deliver us from evil.” For if we say this prayer wholeheartedly, we must certainly rejoice in all these terrible signs. For what we have desired is coming. This is why we should ardently desire and love this coming of Christ if we want to be redeemed from sin and all evil. For he says: “Your redemption draws near.” Yet those who are afraid and do not want this day to come, what do they do when they pray: “Your kingdom come; deliver us from evil?” They accuse themselves and fight against themselves. For what does redemption mean? Who would not like to be redeemed? Accordingly, St. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:8: “He will give the crown of righteousness not only to me, but to all who love his appearance.” And in Titus 2:13: “And wait for the blessed hope and appearance of the glory of the great God;” likewise in Luke 12:36, Christ says: “Be like the people who wait for their lord.” This is why we should be diligent not to entertain hatred or flight regarding the Last Day; for such flight is utterly damnable and pertains to the condemned, the hardened, and the careless. For their hard head must be crushed by such horrible fear. For just as this day will bring the greatest safety and joy for the pious, so it will insufferably terrify the godless. Just as in this life the truth is sweet and pleasant for the pious, while it is abhorrent to the godless.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:1010-1011.

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